“Liberty is not possible playing the game of life without abiding by the rules.” – Erik Pevernagie
Image Credit: Charlie Kirk / Twitter
By William Haupt III [Tennessee Watchdog Journalist, Columnist, Author, and Citizen Legislator via The Center Square] –
Throughout history, there has always been a defining element of a higher status within society that policed the actions of man and government to maintain law and order in legal and judicial forums. Whether it be the laws of war established at the Geneva Convention or universal parliamentary procedure, these standards maintain decorum while debating law and justice in a civil society.
Legislatures are a key component in representative democracy. In a democracy, the legislature has real political power since it is vested in the legislative body. In addition to passing laws that protect the people and maintain liberty, legislatures police government’s operations and structure. Legislatures define the missions of agencies and establish most fundamental operating policies.
Every legal assembly has an inherent right to regulate its own procedures within its constitution. A constitution serves as the law of a state or nation. Parliamentary procedure is a logical method of maintaining decorum in committees or in the assembly. This is the most used method of decorum.
Most judicial assemblies follow a set of ethics established by past judiciaries such as Roberts Rule of Order. Jefferson’s House Rules are the oldest rules governing ethical legislative House conduct.
Others include Atwood’s Rules, and the Democratic Rules of Order used within private meetings.
In most democracies, our legislative floors have been respected by dissidents and protesters. But with the rise of young progressives and their disruptive protests, states and the federal government fear anarchy, insurrection and even armed conflict will seize control of assembly floors at any time.
Montana transgender state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, a Democrat, recently told fellow legislators in the state House they had “blood on their hands” during session following a raucous transgender demonstration at the Capitol. Zephyr has constantly violated the Montana legislative House decorum since elected.
“Transgender rights are violated daily with no regard at all for their special needs.” – Zooey Zephyr
The state’s House voted last week to bar the transgender Democrat from the floor for the rest of the session. This is a most recent example of lawmakers acting post haste to preserve legislative decorum. After what happened January 6th, 2021, in Washington D.C., they fear if they don’t punish those who breach ethics immediately it’s likely that protesters will start taking over the assembly floors.
Attorneys for Zephyr sued House Speaker Matt Regier and Sergeant-at-Arms Bradley Murfitt on behalf of Zephyr for reinstatement. Emily Flower of Montana’s Attorney General’s office said, “This is performance political activism masquerading as a lawsuit.” She said a court decision blocking the Legislature censure would violate the separation of powers between branches of government.
“We expect obedience to all rules of this body, including decorum.” – Majority Leader Sue Vinton
Montana is far from alone in its aggressive crackdown on defiant lawmakers using the chamber floor as a protest forum. Across the U.S., activist legislators have been disrupting proceedings with overheated language, outrageous accusations and cacophonous protests. State legislative leaders are swiftly punishing anyone who violates parliamentary procedure and “Robert’s Rules of Order.”
In Oklahoma last month, progressive Rep. Mauree Turner was removed from all committees and censured for breaking decorum and assaulting a police officer and another lawmaker during a transgender protest. Turner was offered the chance to keep the committee seats by issuing a formal apology but said; “I think an apology for loving the people of Oklahoma is something I cannot do.”
The Arizona House voted April 12 to expel GOP Rep. Liz Harris after an ethics committee found that she violated the chamber’s rules by “eroding the public trust in the legislative process” with her “disorderly behavior.” She accused her colleagues of criminal activity, including taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel, and hid the testimony from House leaders, which misled the investigators.
House Speaker Ben Toma said, “What should have been a joint hearing to examine commonsense election reforms devolved into disgraceful fringe theater.” Harris called the report “a lie” and told reporters the expulsion vote was “an example if you don’t toe the line this is what happens to you.”
In the Volunteer state of Tennessee, last month the House voted to expel two progressive representatives who commandeered the podium during session. They smuggled in a bullhorn to protest for gun control legislation and led chants from a gang of noisy protesters who came with them sitting in the galley.
State Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson had been leading protests at the capital for weeks.
This was not the first time Jones made the news for participating in an injurious protest near the Capital. During Black Lives Matter’s summer of love, a Blog Scoop video shows that Jones blocked traffic and assaulted an innocent driver with a traffic cone during a brawl in 2021.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy
Earlier in the month, Jones and at least two other progressive state representatives encouraged a crowd of more than 1,000 protesters to breach the Tennessee House chamber floor during a gun control protest. Progressives Reps. Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson were also involved in this.
When liberal media reported the expulsion of Jones and Pearson and censure of Gloria Johnson, who is white, cries of “good ol boys Republican racism” spread quickly around the nation by liberal media. Yet Tennessee has bent over backwards to correct the past sins of the Democratic segregationists.
“The media paints false pictures to hide events that contradict their editor’s views.” – Dennis Pregar
According to state Sen. Mark Pody of Lebanon, TN, “Speaker Sexton had no choice but to call for a recess out of fear things would get out of hand.” The three legislators have been disrupting session and bringing crowds of protesters to the people’s galley who are boisterous and disruptive. Unlike states that have full time legislators, Tennessee’s floor sessions only last about three months.
Plato told us, “Good law makes for a good society.” Laws are not made to be broken. Justice is not served if those who feel above the law disrupt legal protocol. When we are in someone’s home we follow their rules. When they are in our home we expect them to follow ours. Decorum is essential in democratic governments to insure that everyone has equal time to debate every issue. Without decorum and parliamentary protocol it would be impossible for our courts and legislatures to serve us.
“It’s a great thing to know the season for speech and the season for silence. No evil propensity of the human heart is so powerful that it may not be subdued by discipline” – Seneca the Elder
About the Author: William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13. His work also appears in The Center Square, The Western Journal, Neighbor Newspapers, KPXJ 21 (Shreveport, LA), Killeen Daily Herald, Aberdeen American News, InsideNova, Kankakee Daily Journal, Monterey County Weekly, Olean Times Herald, The Greeneville Sun and more. Follow William on Twitter @iii_haupt.